Photos by Leslie-Anne Brill
The deck at Seaside Johnnies in Rye is already packed.
Summer began in early May, when Seaside Johnnies in Rye opened for the season. We swung by recently and did a double take: there were enough people on Oakland Beach—with bathing suits, lounge chairs, and umbrellas—that we wondered if there was already a lifeguard on duty (there wasn’t). Above it all, on the restaurant’s round balcony, a weekday lunch crowd dug into sushi, fish and chips, fresh filet of sole, and chilled seafood platters, looking for all the world like summer Fridays had begun months ago. I felt ridiculous in jeans and sleeves—can summer start too soon?
Nonsense. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Popcorn shrimp with remoulade dipping sauce is good—I can’t get enough of the sauce—and we used to enjoy the baskets of fried seafood they sold at the beach snack bar below. Now, if you want seafood (no longer available at the snack bar), you’ll have to go to the restaurant, and if you go to the restaurant, you’ll want a drink. Preferably something over the top and tropical.
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If you want to feel like you’ve been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt, there’s only one drink for you: Super Bowl Seaside Punch, served in a souvenir fish bowl (that’s right, you can take it home): light rum, dark rum, coconut rum, Bacardi O, and fruit juice, garnished with fresh fruit and maraschino cherries (with several more lurking in the deep). The 30 ounce ($24.95) serves two, the 84 ounce ($34.95) three to five (who’s counting). Does it matter what it tastes like? (A heavily spiked juice box, btw.) By the time we hit bottom and a passerby asked, “Where’s the fish?” we thought we might have swallowed it.
Nope—we were mixing it up with a short jaunt over to Pier Restaurant and Tiki Bar (same owners) on the Playland boardwalk, which decorates some cocktails with a plastic fish and serves its own version of the drink. But even here at the town beach, Playland is within view—as are are its fireworks, on certain summer nights.
94 Dearborn Ave
(914) 921-6104; facebook.com/pages/Seaside-Johnnies/201025143385511